We Have No Idea What Emails the Papadopoulos Plea Refer To

In response to yesterday’s server hiccups and in anticipation that Mueller is nowhere near done, we expanded our server capacity overnight. If you think you’ll rely on emptywheel reporting on the Mueller probe, please consider a donation to support the site

As I’ve noted, the George Papadopoulos plea information, reveals that Papadopoulos learned that Russia had “dirt” consisting of “thousands of emails of Clinton” three days before the DNC learned they had been hacked.

And it makes it clear that on April 26 — three days before the DNC figured out Russia had hacked them — Papadopoulos’ handler told him Moscow had dirt on clinton.

The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton. The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.”

After learning the Russians had emails on Clinton even before Clinton learned it, Papadopoulos “continued to correspond with Campaign officials,” including his Senior Policy Advisor and a High-Ranking Campaign Official.

From this detail, I’ve seen endless amount of shite premised on what these emails were.

For example, Julian Assange tweeted something bizarre about the emails being the emails released mostly in response to a Jason Leopold FOIA. I thought he was trying to pretend he had no inside information from the Russians?

Others are tying the emails to the registration of the DC Leaks website, which had occurred by this point, but which also released more emails pertaining to Ukraine than Democrats.

Others are suggesting that because no one ever found the emails Hillary deleted from her server, the claim must not be correct because there were no emails of Hillary out there.

Others are tying the comment to Podesta’s emails (he was first hacked on March 19). Or they’re claiming incorrectly that the Papadopoulos report must be wrong because the DNC emails were the ones released early on, not the Podesta ones (in fact, the source for about half the earliest released Guccifer 2.0 “DNC” emails appears to be the Podesta emails, and for most of the rest has not be identified).

Others are pointing out — I’m not sure why — that Russia hacked some Republicans.

All of this suggests that people have this mistaken belief that the general public knows the universe of emails that have been hacked, and that all the hacked emails have been released.

Most annoyingly, most people who know better are saying that Russia started hacking the Democrats in spring 2016. But as the Intelligence Committee Assessment lays out, “In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016.” And the ICA was always deliberately coy about who else the earlier wave of hacking, by APT 29 associated with FSB, may have hacked (I assure you its targets were prominent), to say nothing of the later APT 28 attribution known to be associated with released emails.

And as I was bitching about this, I was reminded by a Kaspersky researcher that APT 29 had spent the previous year hacking the White House and State Department.

All of which is to say, without more evidence (which Mueller has chosen not to give us yet) we cannot conclude anything about Papadopoulos learning, in April, that Russians were talking about having dirt against Hillary with regards to which emails were on offer; we can only conclude that a person in the campaign learned (and probably shared that knowledge, though Mueller is deliberately withholding that detail too) very early on that Russians were offering up emails as campaign dirt.

Update: In related news, the AP got ahold of a list of APT 28’s targets (though doesn’t emphasize, as it should, that these targets may not have been successfully breached).

40 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    not that i would know, but this papadopoulos matter seems worthy of caution, or at least a patient approach for media folk.

    the only info so far that makes me tingle even a little is that

    1) papadope succeeded in getting encouragement from several top trump campaign officials – they definitely were not putting on any brakes.

    2) russians are known for cautious third party approaches to their espionage seductions. we’ll see. maybe mueller is patiently climbing a ladder; maybe he is bluffing.

    wapo names a few names but no tingle – yet :)


    • Pat Colman says:

      That’s not how politics works under capitalism, and especially not how it works in America. The right uses every possible angle, including subtle lies, big lies, and outright extravagant conspiracy theories. This on top of racist and classist dog whistling. That is because in the United States of America money is speech and corporations are people. This is the end result of capitalism; that is rule by capital. Nothing more, nothing less. It supersedes rule of law and the constitution.

      There is no corporately owned or sponsored media that is not implicitly upholding and encouraging the status quo. MSNBC, NPR, and the rest of what the right might call “leftist media” are complicit in maintaining the cycle of corrupt politicians and institutions, thus precluding real democracy.

      Trump is just the natural conclusion of such a system. When a society is organized around the idea that private profit is the motive for the distribution of the necessities of life, the worst people, who play the dirtiest, and who have no moral compass will inevitably rise to the heights of power. That is, unless the people are willing to push back.

      Thus, it is incumbent on any media that isn’t corrupted by the money of the ruling class and institutions of this nation (which is only those that don’t take corporate money) to use every cudgel possible against fascism. Otherwise, that media is encouraging it.

  2. Kim Kaufman says:

    Good segment on Democracy Now this morning, Marcy. Truly look forward to Jeff Sessions getting boiled.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    Lawfare has some good stuff on this today, which would tend to undermine the “Mueller is bluffing” theory:


    However, if the Trump-tweeted picture of the March 31, 2016 meeting is accurate, Papadopoulos was there and he said he talked about the Russian emails.  Note also from yesterday that SHS said only one meeting (she did tap dance, but kept going back only to one meeting) was held with this group which means that Papadopoulos’ testimony in his plea deal catches JeffBo in a flat lie in answering Sen. Franken’s question about collusion.  That is under oath to Congress and a crime all by itself.  I’m not sure who files or if the committee has to vote to press the charges, but one does wonder how that conforms to the commandment to “bear not false witness”.

    Let’s see how the spinning goes today, and how well SHS does as a pinata.  I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t pull in Professor Kmiec’s LawNewz opinion to undermine Mueller’s conclusions.  However, Kmiec wrote his LA Times op-ed on the constitutionality of Mueller’s probe in July (see below for the link) so I’m wondering how SHS would be able to answer the question about why now. My guess is that McGahn, Sekulow, et al were aware of the op-ed and found it to be insufficient.



    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Mueller is bluffing line is desperate and laughable, rather like hoping that large vertical fin swimming round you a few feet away will be distracted by that pack of seals a quarter mile off.

      As for gambling analogies, I prefer the one about sitting down to a card game without knowing which of the other players is the chump.  That ignorance guarantees that you’re it.

  4. Willis Warren says:

    I was scratching my head at that Julian Assange stuff, too.

    It’s pretty obvious that Mueller has other sealed indictments waiting in the wings. The Republicans are shitting their pants

  5. Arbed says:

    “For example, Julian Assange tweeted something bizarre about the emails being the emails released mostly in response to a Jason Leopold FOIA. I thought he was trying to pretend he had no inside information from the Russians?”

    Why is it “bizarre” to clarify that when people talk about “the Clinton emails published by WikiLeaks” the only emails of hers it has published are the same ones the State Dept released (in a not-very-searchable format) after Jason Leopold’s FOIA? WikiLeaks merely scanned those and put them into a decent keyword-searchable database.

    I think it’s a helpful clarification given that so many people mislabel the DNC Leaks (of emails from/to 10 DNC officials) and the Podesta Emails (John Podesta’s email inbox) as “Hillary Clinton’s emails”. This type of conflation has been a feature of US news reporting for a whole year now. No wonder people are so damn confused and see “Russians!” everywhere.

  6. Charles says:

    Slightly OT: On Real News Network interview, Aaron Mate is being deliberately obtuse, isn’t he?  He must understand that (a) the FBI has e-mails in which confirm all of the claims Papadopolous makes, and (b) it doesn’t matter if Professor Mifsud was confabulating: Papadopolous was acting on the belief he was setting up appointments with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Putin’s niece, and Trump’s staff were listening with interest to the offers and attempting to conceal that interest by using subordinates to do the dirty work.  One can be jailed for conspiring to commit a crime which has no chance of succeeding, as the Liberty City Seven learned.


    Thanks for being patient with interviewers like Mate, Marcy. It shows you to be a very, very good person and a true professional to focus on the facts and not descend to their level,.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Indeed.  I’d say this is a bit more problematic for the interested parties than being busted for a dime bag of oregano.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    I do not know what is the required timeline for release of the email details or if it is sealed and why.

    The other possible idea is that all sources were hacked, which would make sense given the scope of the Russian hacking.

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    The APT 29 intrusion is harder to talk about because there’s no real public sense of exactly when it began and no release associated with it: the forensic reporting has generally been “APT 28 didn’t even know the other Bear had cracked the DNC server, and its rootkits were competing with APT 29’s, haha.”

    This all gets us back into “believed to be known at the time” territory, and just how well-formed the belief was in early 2016 that “The Emails Are Out There” as later expounded in the “blackmail file” speech and “Russia, if you’re listening…” For that, there doesn’t need to be a clear sense of the source, just the stuff cultivated over 2015.

  9. Peacerme says:

    Off topic slightly…but doesn’t this detail perpetuate a larger collusion? The bank of Cypress was where much of the money was laundered as Wilbur was running things? This seems to have branches that keep going and now Wilbur is head of commerce? My God! If Trump appointed him? Not a lawyer but it implies something? Or am I making too much of this detail?


    • Ed Walker says:

      I think this is interesting and may have some implications for Ross, but we’d have to see some links between Ross and Manafort, among other things. The larger implication is that he is now linked to the Bank of Cyprus in an unpleasant setting, just because he agrreed to be a director of the bank. In the same way lobbyists are rethinking their evasion of the FARA, as noted in the WaPo linked in OrionATL’s comment above, maybe these clowns will have to drop their affiliations with banks that are suspect. That is good for all of us. Those links are the connections they use for tax evasion and money-laundering.

  10. Willis Warren says:

    “On March 16, 2016 WikiLeaks launched a searchable archive for over 30 thousand emails & email attachments sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was Secretary of State. The 50,547 pages of documents span from 30 June 2010 to 12 August 2014. 7,570 of the documents were sent by Hillary Clinton. The emails were made available in the form of thousands of PDFs by the US State Department as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. The final PDFs were made available on March 3, 2017.”

    –wikileaks web page

    Julian Assange claims these are the “thousands of emails” in the Papodopoulos confession. But there’s NO REASON to think that.

    Stop defending Julian Assange. It just makes you creepy

  11. Arbed says:

    Willie Warren says:

    “Julian Assange claims these are the “thousands of emails” in the Papodopoulos confession.”

    No, he doesn’t. This is what he says.

    “The ‘thousands of Clinton emails’ WikiLeaks published were not hacked but obtained from the U.S. State Department via the Freedom of Information Act ion 3 March 2016. https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/ (the ‘2017’ reference later in the document is a typo)”

    That simply explains where the ‘thousands of Clinton emails’ that appear on Wikileaks site came from.

    (The #papadopoulos hashtag added to the end of the tweet is because the misunderstanding is being repeated in news reporting relating to the GP plea documents, so the hashtag helps push this info out to people who are following #papadopoulos news.)

    • Name says:

      Didn’t wikileaks publish the hacked Podesta emails? Then they played coy with the guys who started PizzaGate on a reddit AMA. I have the screen shots. Wikileaks has destroyed its reputation, and this is coming from a fan of Snowden, Manning, Winner, et al., and a NOT fan of Hillary Clinton.

    • emptywheel says:

      Again, there was zero reason for Assange (or anyone defending him) to weigh in except that he’s a narcissist. This is not about him. Thus the fair description of his attempt to insert himself in the story in a way that refutes everything he has been trying to say for a long time as bizarre.

    • emptywheel says:

      Side note: In the past, I’ve referenced another part of the the investigation into the hack that was in PA, which you admitted you knew nothing about. It is alluded to in this WSJ piece (though the WSJ has some inaccuracies — not about the fact that multiple entities have IDed specific individuals, but some other things).

      Federal prosecutors and federal agents working in Washington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Philadelphia have been collaborating on the DNC investigation.


      • Arbed says:

        Ahh! That’s what you were referring to? Yes, I did know about the investigation being split across three different FBI offices. I just didn’t recognise that that’s what you meant.

        What do you make of Donna Brazile’s claim today that DNC officials weren’t told about the “Russia hack” until minutes before the Washington Post’s 14th June article? Do you think Brazile’s claim supports Adam Carter’s analysis that the WaPo’s article was a deliberate set-up by Crowdstrike (/DWS/Clinton campaign?) of the Guccifer 2 persona?


  12. Rugger9 says:

    OT, SHS is back on the tax cuts, but she digs back to Reagan (leaving out the exploding deficit).  Another lie about the corporate tax rates being highest in the world.  The $4000 “pay raise” is back on the table as a talking point.

    Now questions: state and local taxes’ deductions (but the House chair said they will be purged).  Sam Clovis is now in play as Mueller timer starts.  Papadopoulos is under the bus already.  SHS says the media is “obsessed” about Mueller’s investigations that “Americans don’t much care about” that will be closed out soon (but she won’t say why).  She says the “facts are on our side” about collusion.  And we have HRC colluding and NOT TRUMP.  Really.  “Soon” doesn’t mean 3 or four days.  It seems as if GP’s plea is being tossed out because of the lies to the investigator.  Another mention of the ONE meeting of the advisory board.  They want the “Fairness Doctrine” applied to Trump press coverage.

    SHS got a laugh for a joke about naming a name.  Her definition of “collusion” went straight to the Clinton Foundation bunk.  Still no use of the word “slavery” in discussing Kelly’s comment yesterday, although the press used it in their questions so that is apparently the “forbidden word” of the week.  Racial “stoking” is the fault of the campaigns in VA.  Kelly wasn’t wrong, just misunderstood.  Sheesh.

    The press let SHS get away with it again.  I’m guessing the Kaiser is currently using Kelly as someone whose credentials shall not be questioned to stake out positions that distract from Mueller’s findings.  The shelf life for that plan gets shorter after every bone-headed comment Kelly makes.

    Civility is something officers are trained in, even in the Marines.  This is why I find it stunning that to this day Kelly has neither apologized to the widow or the Congresswoman when independent evidence clearly shows he is wrong (even “tree-hugger” Laura Ingraham admits it).

    Bottom line, I do not think they have an answer yet for the Papadopoulos information except to say that since he lied to the investigators (perhaps twice) his testimony cannot be trusted.  If I’m Weissmann, I’m telling Manafort and Gates that this is more proof Kaiser Donnie will not have their back and they’d better sing now.  While they can.

    The repeat of the ONE meeting claim of March 31, 2016 means that Papadopoulos directly contradicts JeffBo, so who’s next?



    • orionATL says:

      rugger9, et al.,

      “… Civility is something officers are trained in, even in the Marines.  This is why I find it stunning that to this day Kelly has neither apologized to the widow or the Congresswoman when independent evidence clearly shows he is wrong…”

      kelly is now out of uniform. in the few months he has held a high position, i have come to think of gen. kelly as an ass kisser par excellance.

      it began with his response to congressional questions about the brutal way dhc/ice was treating immigrants (” if you (congress) don’t like the law (enforced to the letter severely) then change it.” at that point he could have just been talking to congress alone. however, after having been chewed out by generalissimo chapo trump, and then a few weeks later loudly defending the president unnecessarily and awkwardly by questioning the widow and lying about the congresswoman, it became clear that kelley is an ass kisser – a guy who will do whatever it takes to secure the president’s loyalty – alas, more the fool he.

      kelley’s comments effectively defending contemporary white supremacy leave no room to doubt; he will curry favor with trump whenever he feels the need.

      keep an eye out for further evidence.

      by the way, this is one instance where we may use the word tteason and not have bmaz g8ve us a law lecture :))

      • Rugger9 says:

        While I was on CVN-70, we had a MARDET that was run by what I would term as a “corporate Marine”.  Admittedly, I was more that a little biased in my disappointment because he refused to let me have any players for the ship’s team I had started because “they might get hurt”.  Sheesh.  I played club rugby earlier that year against teams from Camp Pendleton and Twenty-Nine Palms so I was expecting some talent would be there. Every service has their political animals and suck-ups (USN as well).

        I think Kelly lost his roots, and like Ollie North before him, walked away from what the Corps means.  Semper Fi is only trotted out to squelch dissent.

        FWIW, I’d like to hear from our USMC lurkers on Kelly as a Marine. I’m not sure how his execrable policies as head of ICE [the stuff we hear about more often (like detaining the ten year old cerebral palsy victim) were put into place by him] match up with the “service to others” standards I have seen in the vast majority of the Marines I’ve worked with over the years.

        • bmaz says:

          I have no clue on his military service, and don’t have the background to speculate.

          But the essence of a man, and his true morals, don’t just change like that. Kelly clearly did not get the we include and honor all bit out of his service.

  13. Bay State Librul says:

    Next up…. Flynnie and Flynnie Junior…..
    Some say that there are another four sealed indictments.
    Sealed vs Sealed, I reckon

  14. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: @emptywheel (your tweet)

    Kennedy: Do you have a profile on me.
    Stretch: Senator, if you have a Facebook ad we do permit you to be targeted.

    [an intentional misdirection answer? Take out ‘ad’]

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    OT, on the continuing role of John Kelly – son of Ireland, Boston street fighter, former Marine general, chief of staff to a racist president, and purveyor of dog whistle politics for a soulmate – in rehabilitating the reputation of Robert E. Lee, Adam Serwer has a fitting response:

    To describe this man as an American hero requires ignoring the immense suffering for which he was personally responsible, both on and off the battlefield. It requires ignoring his participation in the industry of human bondage, his betrayal of his country in defense of that institution, the battlefields scattered with the lifeless bodies of men who followed his orders and those they killed, his hostility toward the rights of the freedmen and his indifference to his own students waging a campaign of terror against the newly emancipated. It requires reducing the sum of human virtue to a sense of decorum and the ability to convey gravitas in a gray uniform.

    (Emphasis added.)  Or in the case of Kelly, Armani grey or Marine dress blues.

    • Rugger9 says:

      If Kelly were really a Marine of the Chesty Puller persuasion he would have told the Kaiser to carry out Frank Sinatra’s directive.

      Like Ollie North earlier, his moral failure is a stain upon the Corps.  Full disclosure, I’m not USMC, but I knew plenty of them in my time in the USN.

      The Flynns are a good choice for who’s next.  I’d also figure Carter and Corey might join them sooner than later.

      But perhaps it will be Sam Clovis since he was sending George on his expeditions and SHS gave him a pro forma defense (for now).

    • harpie says:

      Ta-Nahisi Coates wrote a good thread about this [but did NOT actually thread it…arrgh!]. It begins here:

      Regarding John Kelly’s creationist theorizing  on Lee and the Civil War, its worth pointing out a few things. 2:12 AM – 31 Oct 2017

      He also mentions the Serwer piece:

      As @AdamSerwer points out Lee wasn’t some agnostic pressed into War. He was a dude who thought torture was cool.

      Coates says in this tweet:  Was the Civil War About Slavery?” , that he

      Gave a talk on this at West Point last year. But really they didn’t need me. Colonel Ty Seidule kicks the facts. [LINK to YouTube]

      That LINK is really worth a watch…puts Kelly’s diatribe to shame.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    To be clear, this is not about the Marines, or generals like Chesty Puller or Smedley Butler, although as Butler pointed out in more direct language, we should be more restrained in what we order them to do around the world.  It’s about former Marines who become politicians and peddle false history and mindless adoration of leaders as if that were an adequate substitute for a working democracy.

    If Mr. Kelly does not like the constant back and forth and criticism that are a politician’s daily fare, he should get out of the kitchen and crack a beer.

  17. Watson says:

    A bit OT, but my two cents on all this hacking and snooping:

    I think it’s appalling that people are hacking our elections and snooping on our communications.

    But our pay-to-play elections are already so bent that they give democracy a bad name. 1%’ers like the Kochs and the Mercers have long had the motive, means, and opportunity to hack our elections if they somehow failed to control the nomination process.

    I certainly don’t think that the Russia-Fancy Bear-APT 28-29 snooper/hackers are good guys, but I don’t see them as significantly worse than the spooks exposed by Edward Snowden.

  18. bell says:

    dang, but there must be a ruskie 2016 election manipulator hiding in all this somewhere.. if i didn’t know better i would think marcy is on clintons payroll, or is that the saudi payroll? lol…

  19. lefty665 says:

    Another variation on the “which emails” is that the Russians, like us, do a lot of hacking as part of their intelligence gathering.  What they, and we, do not often do is publicly circulate the data they have hacked. It is entirely possible they hacked Hillary, the DNC, Podesta, State, OPM, etc, but were not the source of the published emails. Lots of folks seem to have conflated “can” with “source” for published emails.

  20. orionATL says:

    i am going to end the discussion of the “missing”, i. e., never publicly available, clinton emails that were deleted from her private email server after she left the state dept. in 2012. :)))

    if those emails had existed in any unfriendly or any money-seeking hands they would have already been released to the public either to damage or embarass clinton, or for money – just as tom brady’s cellphone contents would have been released had he not busted the phone into pieces. the clinton server deleted emails no longer exist. take my word for it! i had a vision!

    o. k. maybe not a vision, but this thought. there is no evidence clinton’s private server was ever breeched. tested possibly, but apparently never breeched.

    the emails were supposedly viewed, reviewed, and destroyed by clinton lawyers. how likely is it that the lawyers given this assignment would screw it up and leave emails out there? not very.

    is there an undiscovered back up copy somewhere? maybe, but only in fbi hands. even if so it would not have remained secret. yesterday was the time to exploit it, not today.

    scratch those deleted server emails off your list of “clinton” emails.

Comments are closed.